Boreal Light: East Africa Water Kiosk Project

Boreal Light developed a scalable, low-cost water desalination to provide clean water and sustainable jobs in emerging markets

Photo of Hamed Beheshti
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Boreal Light, GmbH

Year founded

2014

Initiative stage

  • Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $10k - $50k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 1 - 10

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • Germany

Headquarters location: City

Berlin

Location(s) of impact

Kenya: Lamu Island, Wasini Island, Ukunda, Lunga Lunga, Gongoni, Nakuru Shabab

Website

http://www.boreallight.com/

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

An estimated 340 million people in Africa do not have access to safe drinking water and only 26 countries will meet MDG water sanitation targets. This lack of clean water promotes a variety of waterborne diseases and causes millions of deaths particularly among children. Further, issues of economic development, particularly for rural communities. Further, many agricultural communities do not have access to desalinated water for irrigation purposes, limiting agricultural productivity and rural economic development.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

Boreal Light addresses issues of clean water and rural development with an innovative, scalable, and affordable solar-powered water-desalination system capable of providing safe hygienic water at a price as low at 0.017 € per liter. The Winture® systems are capable of taking water from both brackish and seawater sources for irrigation or drinking. Designed to be rugged, affordable, and easy to operate, the systems are ideal for rurally located communities and easily integrate with existing boreholes or pump systems. The system’s advanced energy systems can also provide value-added services such as electricity and WIFI that provides additional revenue streams for kiosk operators, providing a rural employment solution.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Boreal Light addresses issues of clean water and rural development with an innovative and affordable solar-powered water-desalination system capable of providing safe hygienic water at a price as low at 0.017 € per liter. The Winture® systems are capable of taking water from both brackish and seawater sources for irrigation or drinking. Designed to be rugged, affordable, and easy to operate, the systems are ideal for rurally located communities and easily integrate with existing boreholes or pump systems. The system’s advanced energy systems can also provide value-added services such as electricity and WIFI that provides additional revenue streams for kiosk operators, providing a rural employment solution. Boreal Light expects to create more than 100 jobs and provide safe hygienic drinking water to hundreds of thousands of East Africans by 2019.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

Boreal Light plans to support the initiative through a combination of grants (40%), private investments (40%) and earned revenues (20%). The company will fund its initial pilot with a combination of grants and private investments. The company expects to be operating profitably by the end of 2018, and expects to fund expansion through a combination of earned revenues and private investments. The company’s water kiosk pilot is intended to both test revenue models as well as establish a brand presence for the company in East Africa. Moving forward the company will focus on both a B2B as well as B2C business models.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

Winture Planet Cubes ® are designed to provide safe hygienic water for drinking or irrigation from brackish or seawater sources. They’re innovative through their simplicity, both in design, as well as in ease-of-use. Designed for rural environments with 24/7 monitoring equipment they are ideal for emerging markets. The systems are competitively priced at 45% below the competition. Finally, the systems are designed to provide value-added services as a rural employment solution.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

Boreal Light’s Managing Director Dr. Hamed Beheshti had worked for 10 years implementing renewable energy projects in emerging economies. At one point, he was asked to consult on a solar-powered water pump. The project was discontinued after the water quality was found to be undrinkable due to contaminants. With plenty of experience in designing solar-powered pumps, Dr. Beheshti saw the opportunity to provide the missing piece of the puzzle: a desalination system capable of desalinating brackish or seawater sources. This episode drove the development of the Winture Planet Cube ® as an easy-to-operate, solar-powered, affordable, and versatile desalination system.

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Photo of Bernice Fernandes

I enjoyed reading about your water project as we are both in the same industry! I am amazed by your low cost of water per liter at 0.017 € per liter! How did you get it that low?